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This question is based on the discussion here. In my opinion the current version of offering bounties is not fair enough. Whenever there is no answer to a featured question the owner looses from 50 to 500 points depending on the amount of bounty. The listing time is one week for both cases and there is no explanation (in my opinion) why the loss should be variable although the service (listing time) is the same.

My suggestion:

$1$-) Everyone who wants to ask a featured question (to open a bounty) pays a daily or weekly price for listing. It can be $50$pts or $100$pts for a week or $20$pts per day. This point is open to discussion (as if it is daily or weekly or how many pts etc.) and can be related to the total number of questions expected in the list of featured questions. The owner of the question accepts that the lising price is nonrefundable.

$2$-) Each question offers an amount of bounty (in principle up to the user but can be upperbounded)

$3$-) a-) If there is an answer and if the answer is accepted then the bounty goes to the owner of the answer

b-) If there is no answer, the bounty goes back to the owner of the question

c-) If there is/are an/- answer(s) but non of the answers was accepted at the end of the grace period either $5$ members whose overall reputation is above some number decide if the bounty goes to the answer or if it goes back to the owner of the question. This part could also be in a different way like the edit in the current system. In this case the members whose overall reputation is above some point vote for say $1$ day if the bounty should be sent back to the owner of the question or to the answer.

$4$-) (Not so importantly) What will happen to the points earned by listing? possible answers:

a-) Nothing, they will be simply lost.

b-) These points are collected in a pool and used to advertise some interesting questions (the choise of big bosses, admins, or some memebers with very high reputations)

Please let me know if you think that such a system is better or if it has missing points or it is not useful at all due to ... reasons.

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    $\begingroup$ I'm struggling to see what part of the current system you don't like. Are you against allowing flexible bounty amounts? After all, it's down to the offerer as to how much they are willing to risk 'losing to the void'. Higher bounties attract more and higher quality potential answers and it's this advantage which you are paying the extra for. $\endgroup$ – Dan Rust Jan 8 '14 at 15:19
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    $\begingroup$ This would put the risk on the answerer (will the bounty really be given?) rather than on the questioner (will I get an answer?). Since I think that people put a lot more effort into answering bountied questions, I don't think they should bear any extra risk (there is always a risk that the investor will award the bounty to someone else, and that is pretty much unavoidable). Both sides should invest (reputation from the questioner and effort from the answerer), bear the appropriate risk (will I get an answer?/will I get the bounty?), and reap the appropriate reward (a good answer/reputation). $\endgroup$ – robjohn Jan 8 '14 at 20:23
  • $\begingroup$ @DanielRust one needs to read and think about it rather than being conservative. What is a risk in such a society? do you think that people who are doing probability theory go to gambling saloons? $\endgroup$ – Seyhmus Güngören Jan 12 '14 at 20:29
  • $\begingroup$ @robjohn I (almost) completely disagree about your comment. If the answerer gives no answer he is safe so no answer no point. If he answers and if there are others, then it is the decision of the questioner. If the questioner doesnt want to award it anyone still the society can decide that it should be award to some one or if there is one answer to that answer. There is a clear bug in the system and unbelievably your are defending it instead of correcting. Do you think that +200 on the title normal? it shows that there is something missing in the system clearly. $\endgroup$ – Seyhmus Güngören Jan 12 '14 at 20:36
  • $\begingroup$ @robjohn It is like the system in the state. If the system is great there will be no mafia, else you will see someone who is using its bugs. $\endgroup$ – Seyhmus Güngören Jan 12 '14 at 20:36
  • $\begingroup$ @SeyhmusGüngören: I am sorry; I was commenting on putting a promise into the title instead of into the bounty system. I was not commenting on your itemized suggestions. This was going to be a comment on main, but I moved it here since it seemed out of place there. Unfortunately, it was not entirely on point here. You mention that there is a clear bug in the system. What is that? $\endgroup$ – robjohn Jan 12 '14 at 22:39
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Bounty amount and duration

there is no explanation (in my opinion) why the loss should be variable although the service (listing time) is the same.

You will find an explanation if you try to set the bounty on the same question again. The first week of advertising can cost as little as 50, the second will cost at least 100, the third at least 200, the fourth at least 400, every subsequent week 500. (It doubles until reaching 500). So there is already a link between amount spent and the duration of advertisement. Of course, if a question draws no answer after one bounty, chances of subsequent bounties helping are slim: the issue is not that people don't see the question, it's that they don't see an approach to getting the answer.

Informal standing bounties

What prompted this post was the title of the question Is this infinite sum always less than zero?(+500pts bounty for the correct answer). Basically, you promised 500 points for a correct answer, without limiting the offer to one week and also maintaining complete control over whether the award is made. Looks reasonable on the surface.

And you are not the first one to try this:

Yet, I am not wild about the idea. It's not a problem so far, but if it catches up, our list of questions will look much like Yahoo answers. I think adding a very brief note to the body of question, while also a workaround, is a better way to go. If a user would not click on the question title without a promise of extra points, that user is not the answerer you are looking for.

What is broken

Bounties tend to attract bad answers, those answers (given the increased number of page views) attract votes from careless readers, which causes the bounty to be auto-awarded. One question on which I set a bounty acquired four wrong answers with a score 2 or higher (and some of the answerers insisted on them being correct). I don't care about points lost or gained, but the permanent bright red sign of approval +100 on a wrong answer bothers me. Future readers will not even know this was an auto-award without hovering over that sign.

Proposals to fix this exist on meta.SO:

They are not declined, but are not moving forward either. Personally, I'd be happy if the system simply did not display the red mark for auto-awarded bounties.

What to do

With the existing technology, our weapon is the comment field. Saying something like "This does not answer the question because [brief explanation]" under an answer should inhibit further upvotes and may generate enough downvotes to prevent auto-award.

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    $\begingroup$ I really hope that informal bounties don't catch up. I dislike having any kind of formatting in titles. It makes the homepage look unprofessional. $\endgroup$ – Ayman Hourieh Jan 8 '14 at 18:44
  • $\begingroup$ FYI, I removed the standing bounties. And the boxes, as well... $\endgroup$ – draks ... Jan 30 '14 at 12:59

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